The Common Core, adopted by almost all states, looks at learning in depth. The standards support youth as they learn to communicate effectively, think critically, creatively consider ways to take existing information and transform it, and work collaboratively. One of the standards focuses on reading informational text. This is an area in which afterschool programs can be particularly effective. In Common Core youth are encouraged to look at a variety of information sources—books, articles, poetry, reports, media, and so on, to develop and then articulate an opinion.
So how might afterschool work to support this Common Core standard? Consider the Service Learning projects you already do. In Service Learning youth are to identify a community need and then determine how they might address that need. What if you simply added a small modification and when youth are reading, listening, or watching information about the need they have identified, you ask them the following two questions:
- What is the author of this piece of information trying to share with me?
- How does the point of view and information in this piece of text/media fit with other sources I have read?
Once the youth have considered these questions they are ready to form a course of action that is based on an informed opinion founded on an analysis of multiple sources of information—in other words based on the reading of informational text. The youth ask, “What course of action should we take?” and your Service Project is launched.
Surely the reflection component of your service project will reinforce all of the thinking that went into organizing, planning and executing the project. At this point simply asking if the results were what they expected based on the information they read, will bring reading informational text full circle.
If you aren’t offering Service Learning in your program check out Consult 4 Kids videos on